a simple lifestyle blog

So you’re thinking about getting a tattoo…

BRAVO to you!
It really doesn’t hurt as bad as people say. Or at least, not in the same way that you think it would.

I want to share some thoughts that I have developed over many years.

What is a tattoo? Besides a completely awesome form of art that stays on your body forever and ever.
Basically, a tattoo is a body modification inserting ink into the deep layers of your skin to alter its pigment permanently. SWEET!
parts-description-of-tattoo-machineThe tip holds a needle (or many needles when used to shade/add color) that injects ink into the dermal layer of the skin beneath the epidermis.

So, that’s the only factual information I can offer on the topic, EVERYTHING else is a matter of opinion. Really.
No one can guarantee you that you’ll regret your decision to permanently adorn your body with anything that fits your fancy. Just the same as no one can guarantee you, without a shadow of doubt, that someday your skin will sag and stretch so severely later in life that your once beautiful body art will turn into a sad, shriveled heap of discolored skin.

I take to heart a bit of wisdom from Queen Amy Poehler.
“‘Good for her! Not for me.’ That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.”

This goes beyond just women, of course. I strongly believe that we could all benefit from constantly reminding ourselves of this mantra in all situations with all the diverse people we encounter. Myself included, I’m certainly not perfect, but you already know that ;-).
“Good for you! not for me.” What a different world we would live in! I know we are a long way from transcending all cultural, gender, sexual, age, economic and social lines with such acceptance and peace, but it never hurts to shoot for the moon with these things. You know what they say, “you’ll land among the stars” yadda, yadda.

before and after pregnancy

before and after pregnancy *Disclaimer: this is not me in the photo.

I feel comfortable with my body changing over the course of my lifetime through kids, and the fluctuations of life. I can’t guarantee that my tattoos will always look like they did the very first day they appeared on my skin. That’s okay with me. If you don’t feel like that would be okay with you, perhaps a tattoo is not for you.
Good for you, not for me! (See how that works?)

Are you ready for my actual point?

Whether you choose to get a tattoo or not, there are some helpful things to think through beforehand.
Some things I came up with, some things other people came up with.
Maybe I share some good stuff that’s worth  a second thought.
Maybe you’ve already thought of all these things and wish I would just zip it already.
Maybe you haven’t thought of these things and they make absolutely no difference to your current plans to either get or stay as far away from tattoos as possible.
No harm, no foul, buddy!
I’m not here to convince people to get tattoos or to talk people out of getting tattoos.
Just offering some things to ponder, if you so choose, from the perspective of someone who has many tattoos that she is abundantly proud of and happy with.

1. Know anyone that can offer a solid personal recommendation for a tattoo artist? This is a good place to start.
– Depending on the size of your piece, you could be sitting in a chair next to this person for a long time. Are they friendly? Do they want you to sit in silence for two hour sittings while your bum gets numb and you count the bumps on the ceiling? Do they make you feel too intimidated to admit you’ve had to use the bathroom for the last hour and are about to burst? Will they make you feel comfortable enough to be honest about what you really want instead of just accepting the way they want to do the piece on your body?

2. All tattoo artists are not created equal.
– Check out their online portfolio or go into the shop where they should also have examples of their past work available. Like their style? Do you know what style you want? Look at a number of portfolios and styles to be sure you are finding someone who can give you the tattoo YOU want, not just the tattoo that they are capable of giving you.
– Make sure they are licensed. I could share photos of the horrors of going to some guy working out of a garage or in a scratcher shop, but why set you off your lunch? Seriously, don’t google it. You will regret it. *gag*
– Can your artist draw original artwork? There are some cool flash pieces (that is, images generated using photoshop tools and the like to create a specific style of tattoo) out there, but is that what you want? If it is, most excellent, friend! If it isn’t, is your tattooist capable of drawing you the original piece that you want?

an example of flash tattoos

an example of flash tattoos

3. Is your tattoo going to be inexpensive or cheap?
– I’ll just say it, you get what you pay for. We’ll pay $200+ for a cell phone, $50+ on shoes, and who knows how much on all manner of other guilty pleasures. Trust me, a tattoo that you are going to have forever is not where you want to, all of a sudden, get really stingy. If they are charging more its because they have earned that right by perfecting their craft over many years. They are professionals just like any plumber, electrician, contractor, etc. that you would hire for a service. Except, if a tattoo artist botches their service, it can’t be tucked behind a strategically placed magazine rack or picture frame. Go with an artist worth their salt.
– Along the same lines, being inexpensive is not the same as being cheap. I recognize that some artists are trying to get started and they are actually quite talented from early on. You are taking, perhaps, somewhat of a risk using a less experienced artist, but that doesn’t mean you won’t walk away with a great tattoo. A friend of a very good friend of mine, for example, is an apprentice working up her portfolio in LA and her work is stunning!

4. Can your tattoo artist offer friendly advice and suggestions as to placement/size/color/etc.?
– They’re the professionals, right? I have a lot of “bright” ideas, its nice to have someone who knows a thing or two to check my work as it were and make sure I am considering all the pertinent factors.

Jason-Doherty-Gilded-Heart-Tattoo-Newberg-ORThese are a few of the tattoos my husband and I have received from my personal favorite tattoo artist out there, Jason Doherty of Gilded Heart Tattoo in Newberg, OR.

We first started going to Jason when we were in college (in Newberg) via the recommendation of his wife, Zena, who had been in a few classes with us and told us that Jason’s nickname within the tattoo community is Mr. Clean. A fact that made us both feel all the more at ease with our decision.
If your tattoo artist is going to have a nickname, better Mr. Clean than Grubby McDirtyHands or something.

Jason Doherty of Gilded Heart Tattoo in Newberg, OR.

Jason Doherty of Gilded Heart Tattoo in Newberg, OR.

We were actually so happy with the professionalism, creativity, care and work that Jason has done for us that we have gone back to him for every tattoo since. Even now that we have moved to Portland, we trek back to Newberg when we give in to that ever-present tattoo itch. He has done 4 (the last of which is still in progress) for myself and 3 (last one also still in progress) for my husband. Jason is fiercely passionate about unique pieces. When he isn’t tattooing, he spends his days drawing, a fact that is clear when you step into his office area and notice that you are surrounded by wall-to-wall original sketches from skulls and hearts to intricate mer-people and a variety of sci-fi characters.

Jason and Luke recently took over the shop and reopened it in November 2014 having completely transformed it into a bright and welcoming atmosphere. They are deeply invested in the local community, offsetting the popular perception of tattoo shops.

Luke Malone of Gilded Heart Tattoo in Newberg, OR

Luke Malone of Gilded Heart Tattoo in Newberg, OR

The last thing I want you to think about before getting a tattoo (or not) is this:

Are you happy?

That is all that matters.
Happiness is a choice you have to make every single day.

Get a tattoo!
Go skydiving!
Eat all the chocolate you can lay your hands on!
(I’m actually not going to tell you to not do that, ’cause its a dang good idea.)

The point is, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Eleanor Roosevelt said that.
She had a tattoo as well, you know?
Okay, no she didn’t.
But that would’ve been so cool if she had.

oh, Eleanor...

oh, Eleanor…


Until next time, cheers!


10 comments on “So you’re thinking about getting a tattoo…

  1. ladiesinnavy
    May 4, 2015

    this is fascinating. i am tattoo free but my brother is interested in doing tattoos (he’s an awesome artist) and most of my friends have a few. thanks for the food-for-thought!
    ladies in navy


  2. I love tattoos, and your tips are spot on. I love my tattoo and always want more, and I’ve never understood why some people are “against” other people having tattoos. Not your body, so why care, right? *sigh* I’m with you on the “good for you! Not for me” motto — for everything. Do what works for you, and just be happy for others. 🙂


  3. Ali WIlkinson
    May 4, 2015

    I got a tattoo in college and wish I hadn’t. But I love tattoos on other people. Interesting suggestions to keep in mind.


  4. Pech
    May 4, 2015

    I’m afraid of needles so tattoos will never be on me, but I admire some real beautiful tattoos in Portland all the time! I definitely recommend shopping around for your tattoo artist via recommendations (and asking those you run into, even strangers is ok!) and browsing portfolios to understand what you might get. Browsing portfolios may even be a way to shop or improve ideas for what tattoo your want!


    • Truly Cozy
      May 4, 2015

      That’s such a good point! Asking random people on the street if you like what they have is a great way to get a solid recommendation 🙂 plus that’s part of the fun of having them… showing them off :-p


  5. Melissa Kaylene
    May 4, 2015

    I’m probably the minority in my circle…everyone has multiple tattoos except for me! I guess i just haven’t found something that I want permanently…yet 🙂


    • Truly Cozy
      May 4, 2015

      Haha, totally! Nowadays its getting more and more common. Its fun to see all the cool artwork on other people 🙂


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